The announcement of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) model in January 2020 by the Department of Defense (DoD) was not a surprise to the DoD supply chain. The DoD had been requiring more cybersecurity surety by its supply chain as cyberattacks increased in scale and frequency over the 2010s. Today, let us look at why CMMC can be a business opportunity and why you shouldn’t delay beginning your CMMC journey. Organizations that already saw the opportunity have started to adopt these guidelines.
Journey of CMMC
CMMC is seen as the reaction and logical progression of the DoD to safeguard Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Given the frequency of cyberattacks and leaks, the DoD that traditionally secured its information internally now wants to plug the gaps in its vendor, contractor, and supply chain.
The first move was in 2017 when DoD began to include the DFARS (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement) 252.204-7012 clause in its RFP’s (Request for Proposals). It required defense contractors to implement the 110 cybersecurity controls defined in the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) 800-171 Framework. The DoD had required cybersecurity measures and controls previously, but a survey by the DoD showed that a large portion of the 300,000+ vendors had not been following the guidelines previously requested. (read a detailed account of how are DFARS and CMMC are related here).
To ensure the security of its supply chain, the DoD has resorted to making it a mandatory certification and not a self-attestation. In the CMMC, contractors must get certified by an independent audit organization, a Certified Third-Party Assessor Organizations (C3PAO). Most of the CMMC requirements are based on the same NIST guidelines that were being requested previously. CMMC will be mandatory for all defense contracts from FY 2026, which begins in October 2025. Contractors now must post their Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS) score for bidding for new contracts or renewals until then. This interim rule became effective in November 2020. Contracts have been lost due to this score not being posted.
About SPRS Score and Its Link to Your CMMC Journey
Let us quickly understand how to get your SPRS score. SPRS is a negative grading system in which points are deducted from a score. Of the 110 parameters covered under NIST, each parameter or control is given a weight of 1, 3, or 5. Non-compliance to control leads to a reduction in the respective score. SPRS is a weighted scoring system, so it is highly recommended that you take professional help to get your infrastructure analyzed. You will get a more accurate score that will increase your chances in a bid and opportunities to participate in more bids.
The SPRS implementation neatly ties up with the overall CMMC assessment or audit. Hence, your efforts in scoring accurately on the SPRS would be an excellent place to begin your CMMC journey.
Why is it essential to move now?
We observe that some contractors and supplies are waiting for the DoD to come closer to the October 2025 deadline. Let us understand how CMMC opens up opportunities and why it is wrong to wait until the deadline.
- Legacy Businesses: As we’ve mentioned before, most of the 300,000 vendors have not adhered to the NIST guidelines in 2017. This is a great opportunity for younger businesses who already understand the cybersecurity risk and have made the appropriate investments into their cybersecurity.
- Security is a MUST: Many organizations, not just DoD, are looking for securely positioned vendors to fight or fend off a cyberattack. Hence, if you are CMMC certified or have a good SPRS score, it serves as an excellent endorsement to acquire new clients and retain customer loyalty.
- First mover advantage: If non-compliance forbids an organization from bidding, being compliant will give you a distinctive edge. Getting compliant sooner is a great way to get ahead of the competition. So do not delay, start now!
- Get more time to remediate: An early mover always gets more time to fix issues and cover gaps in time to meet deadlines. Our extensive experience tells us that the CMMC assessment and certification waitlist is about six months, with more vendors getting added. We can add another six months to fix the gaps pointed out in the first assessment. If you wait, you are taking the risk of being on hold for a minimum of 1 year. If you move today, you get that extra edge against your skeptical competitor! Don’t you want to get that edge over the competition?
- Take the stress out early and save costs: One thing is clear, even for seasoned firms, auditing is stressful. If you don’t trust us, ask your banks! With over 300,000 DoD vendors, and many of them have not been through an IT audit before. So, the closer you get to the end date, it will get more chaotic and cost you more time, effort, and money. It might even get challenging to find a C3PAO. Have a close look at the market. The large agile firms have already started making their moves.
How can we help in your CMMC Journey?
Alliant Cybersecurity helps businesses, contracts, and manufacturers to improve their cybersecurity posture. We assist both existing DoD contractors and new companies who want to start supplying to the DoD. It means that we are here to help you prepare for the DFARS compliance requirements. Then your can immediately start your CMMC certification journey to race ahead of the competition.